A human rights group, the Campaign for Democracy (CD), yesterday warned Nigerians to be wary of sitting governors seeking re-election, saying from its experience, a second term of office had often ended up in revelations of massive looting.
Rising from a crucial meeting in Lagos, the CD said the time had come to give Nigerians wake up from their slumber by properly scrutinising sitting governors seeking re-election.
In a communiqué after the meeting, signed by its Secretary-General, Pastor Ifeanyi Odili, and Chairman, South-west, Elder S.O Aina, the group said the impending elections in Kogi and Ondo states where sitting governors are seeking re-election should serve as litmus test.
In the communiqué, the CD added that “the general public, particularly the electorate, should to be cautious of second term for any governor serving his first term.”
While admitting that it is the inviolable right of sitting governors and the President to seek re-election, it nonetheless lamented that the process had been abused, owing to greed and corrupt tendencies on the part of most politicians.
“The CD is not unaware that Section 137(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, supports a second tenure of office of any executive position such as that of the President or the governor.
“It is their constitutional right, but that right has been utterly abused by almost all the past governors who have served second term in office.
“It is obvious that the second term in office syndrome has led to a lot of financial fraud and extreme corruption, leaving most states in deep debt and abject poverty as evident in Ondo State where Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of the state, told the generality of people that his administration inherited over N120 billion debt from his successor, Dr. Olusgun Mimiko.
“Experience has taught us that second term in office is a major political system that encourages looting of states’ funds. Many states have been badly pillaged and rendered financially impotent.
“As it is in many states in Nigeria today, many states are still nursing the wounds inflicted on the people on the platform of the second term syndrome,” the CD said.
It added that most worrisome of all is the predilection for the governors to tour the remotest parts of their respective states during campaigns, only to dump the people and renege on promises made to them, once they secure victory.
“Second term in office is a good political arrangement which has been brutally bastardised and abused by politicians.
“Therefore, Nigerians are ardently advised to shun any ploy or antic of politicians aimed at cajoling them into giving them a second mandate, since the people will still live to regret it.
“For that reason, we will commence a nationwide sensitisation campaign, to let the people see the urgent need to shun second term for executive positions,” it stressed.
Besides, the CD called for a legislation aimed at harmonising the conduct of all governorship elections in Nigeria, so as to foreclose undue interference and meddlesomeness in a state’s governorship election.
“All governorship elections should be conducted simultaneously. Staggered election has often given room for meddlesomeness and interference in state election affairs. If election is held simultaneously across the country, every politician will mind his or her business in his or her state,” the group noted.
The body, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari “to explain to the generality of Nigerians why he decided to have our borders closed against certain food items.”
“If weapons are being smuggled into the country through the borders, the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service should be held responsible for not doing enough to secure our borders.
“The masses should not be at the receiving end; they should not be made to face unnecessary pains and agony, and mass hunger, which are the grave consequences of the closed borders.
“This is because the prices of foodstuffs have soared beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. A situation that warrants a bag of rice to be sold at N30,000 is the height of wickedness; a clear case of man’s inhumanity to man,” it lamented.
The CD said while it saluted the President’s eagerness to make Nigeria a self-reliant nation, it would rather that such a lofty policy cannot be reasonably implemented at once.
“It has to be gradual and systematic in process, as the problems were not created in a day; and consequent upon this, they cannot be solved in a day,” the CD cautioned.